As rabbit lovers and responsible pet owners, we do not want to have a nervous, sick or unhappy rabbit. One of the key factors to a healthy, happy and calm rabbit lies in our choice of rabbit hutch or cage. A good quality rabbit hutch will provide a conducive living environment for your rabbits and will go a long way to keeping them happy and healthy.
Rabbits need a cage or hutch. Rabbits may become sick or die if it is too windy, or if they get wet, or cold. Rabbits get hot easily and they will suffer in the direct sun. So rabbits need a hutch to protect them from the weather.
How to Build a Rabbit Cage or Rabbit Hutch
Choose a place where you can keep an eye on the rabbits. But the rabbit cage should be away from where children play, as rabbits hate noise.
The rabbit cage is built on posts which should be 180 centimeters for the front and 170 centimeters for the back. This difference creates a slope to drain off the rainwater. Dig the post holes about 30 centimeters deep. Build the floor one meter above the ground. You can make the floor with wire mesh or with scrap lumber, but leave gaps between the boards so that the urine and droppings fall to the ground. Make the walls with scrap lumber, nailed close together on the back and sides. The walls should be smooth, so the rabbits don’t hurt themselves.
Each adult rabbit must have its own pen, or they will fight. A pen should be at least 60 centimeters high, 90 centimeters wide, and 70 centimeters to the back, so the rabbit can stand up and hop around. Make a door in each pen to give water and feed.
Rabbit pens must be well ventilated because the urine stinks. To let in light and air, make the front of the cage from wire mesh. You can use old corrugated iron sheets to make the roof if there are no holes in them.
Add a small box with soft bedding to be a nest where the female can give birth. In cold places, bedding of straw helps to keep the rabbits warm. Give the rabbits a bowl of water. Keep rats and ants out. Make a rat guard with tin on each post. Smear old engine oil on the base of the posts so the ants do not crawl up.
How to Choose the Right Rabbit Cage and Hutch
The three most important things to consider when buying a rabbit hutch or cage are:
- The size of the rabbit cage or hutch. There is never a rabbit hutch that is too big for your rabbit. Experts recommend a rabbit hutch or rabbit cage to be at least four times the rabbit’s length. But, do not forget that your rabbit will grow in size, especially if you are buying newborn rabbits. You need to cater room for your rabbit to grow and space for them to run around and stretch as well as a place to hide. Your rabbits need those exercises to remain fit and healthy. Rabbits that lack exercise will develop health problems. You also need to make spaces for the water bottle, feeder, litter box as well as some toys to keep your rabbits from being bored. Therefore, always choose the largest rabbit hutch that is practical for you – one that you can afford and that will fit where you need to place it. Remember that your rabbit generally live happier when they have adequate room in their homes
- The type of rabbit cage or hutch. You have a choice of either an indoor or outdoor rabbit cage. Rabbits are generally safer indoors and definitely more comfortable because of climate controls in the house. Keeping rabbits indoors also helps you to bond with your rabbits as you are more likely to interact with it if it is nearby. It also helps the rabbits to be social with people by being in contact with people on a regular basis. Consider having a large outdoor rabbit hutch for milder weather. With that, you can let your rabbits enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and lots of exercise by running around the backyard while being protected from predators and keeping them from wandering off. Whether it is an indoor or outdoor rabbit hutches, do consider one with a second level or more. A multi-level rabbit hutch will satisfy your rabbit’s love to climb, provide them with lots of exercises they need and to keep your rabbit from being bored.
- The design and materials used. Most modern rabbit hutches and rabbit cages today are made of metal, plastic, or wood, depending on size and exposure to the elements. Keeping in mind that you need to clean your rabbit hutches regularly, the materials used are very important. I would recommend a metal, stainless steel or plastic one as they are easier to wash than wood. Also look for a hutch design that allows easy access with more than one opening and doors that permit you to reach all parts of the hutch – for ease of cleaning.
A common problem that rabbit owners faced is sore hocks. Unfortunately, most rabbit hutches and rabbit cage have wire floors with a removable litter pan underneath designed for ease of use and cleaning. Rabbits have sensitive feet and their hocks can get really hurt on a wire floor. Rabbits who stand exclusively on wire day in and day out will develop sore hocks and possible infections as a result. To overcome this, cover at least part of the surface with a hunk of untreated wood, cardboard or a sisal mat to provide a solid area for the rabbit to rest their feet.
Remember, a rabbit hutch is a special place for your rabbit and they must feel both secure and safe in order for them to stay healthy, happy and calm – make it as enjoyable as possible!